Few professionals enjoy the trust and respect that nurses do. They've earned every bit of it and deserve even more. Why is it, then, that so many of the most educated, thoroughly trained and well-credentialed nurses aren't allowed to use all their skills and talents to take care of patients who want and need their help?

Nurses are considered the most trusted profession in the United States. Research shows that nurse practitioners could be the solution to the growing physician shortage across the country, but medical associations disagree. This episode of Freakonomics Radio explores the issues holding these APRNs back.

Many mothers say that delivering with a nurse midwife is a natural, stress-free process. But in rural areas like Kansas, access to midwives is severely limited due to required physician oversight.

Since the 1960s, the number of nurse practitioners in the U.S. has increased significantly. Two nurse practitioners in Georgia share their stories about how their roles help meet the demand for primary care.

Over 58 million Americans live in areas that are considered primary care shortage areas. The growing number of nurse practitioners could alleviate this pressure—but Medicaid and legislative restrictions are limiting them.

Consumer demand for APRNs is growing, and studies have shown that they can deliver care that is just as safe and effective as primary care physicians. So what are the barriers they face to practicing to their full extent?

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